Who: Denyse Beaulieu is several things. She writes about fragrance and teaches fragrance history, both at a Paris luxury marketing school and also at the Versailles-based ISIPCA summer school of perfumery. She’s also written an engaging book, The Perfume Lover, and keeps a blog, Grain de musc, which is essential reading for fragrance fans. We think its fair to say she’s a perfume expert and one with a fabulous sense of style.
Today I’m wearing Memory Motel by the brand Une Nuit Nomade. It was inspired by The Rolling Stones song and it evokes Montauk, where they recorded the album Black and Blue. It was composed by a perfumer whom I consider to be one of the geniuses of the industry, Annick Menardo. She is a prodigiously instinctive perfumer who is able to achieve fragrances that are both commercial and aesthetic successes.
She composed Bois d’Argent for Christian Dior, many of Lolita Lempicka’s range and Boss Bottled for Hugo Boss, which is a huge success and doesn’t get enough recognition because it’s not a very sophisticated brand. But is still being worn, I went for dinner recently and took a cab where the driver smelled terrific, so I asked ‘what are you wearing?’ and it was Boss Bottled. It’s around 20 years old and he was almost as young as the perfume was old!
I wear Memory Motel because it smells of the ghost of a carnation overlaid on tobacco and something very bitter that smells a bit like moss. There’s a smokiness and a dark aspect to it. Some people go into it through vanilla, I don’t and anyway it’s the un-girliest, un-sweetest vanilla ever, It’s like vanilla with claws.
I find it both comfortable and edgy. Fragrance is always thought of as an accessory or an instrument of seduction but it’s also a little house that you carry with you, a little space of your own.
If I’m going to smell other fragrances I don’t spray my arms, obviously, because it would interfere with the gesture of testing. I usually spray the nape of my neck and my hair, because my hair is like a giant blotter, as it flips around I get whiffs of the perfume. If you spray the back of your neck you’re going to get the affect of the fragrance rather than picking at the different pieces of it.
Do I have an unexpected smell that I like? Does horse manure count? I find it so homey, both reassuring and familiar.